United States: New Act calls for more timber structures

Photo credit: River Beech Tower

A new bipartisan bill has been proposed by the United States (US) Senate and House of Representatives titled the Timber Innovation Act. The piece of legislation was introduced in an effort to further advance the construction of tall timber buildings in the US, not only supporting the country’s substantial timber market, but also creating manufacturing jobs in the rural areas.

“The United States has an opportunity to bring new, sustainable mass timber technology to our construction industry, and the Timber Innovation Act direct technical assistance and research components already in place,” President and CEO of the American Wood Council (AWC), Robert Glowinski, said.

The goal of the legislation is to establish a research and development (R&D) programme concentrating on the promotion of tall wooden edifices in the US. Research studies initiated by local, state, university, and private sector levels will be bankrolled through federal grants, and includes funding to educate builders and architects in the finer nuances of working with timber.

“Mass timber technology is revolutionising and disrupting the way buildings are being built around the world. Unfortunately, the United States has been trailing other markets in this regard. The Timber Innovation Act will significantly contribute to enhancing our industry’s ability to close the knowledge gap and stimulate private sector investment,” General Manager of the Binational Softwood Lumber Council, Cess de Jager, commented.

Photo credit: Buddy Burkhalter, Elizabeth Golden, Connor Irick, Richard Mohler, and Mingjun Yin, University of Washington

The Act will also launch technical and educational programmes on timber application and design jointly with the Department of Agriculture and state foresters. Reconstructing and modifying structures in zones afflicted with high unemployment rates will counter the lingering job shortage the recession left in its wake, as well as tackle various environmental issues.

“Our nation’s private forests provide extraordinary benefits to the natural and human environment,” Dave Tenny, President and CEO of the National Alliance of Forest Owners (NAFO), remarked. “Building larger and taller buildings with wood as envisioned under the Timber Innovation Act combines and magnifies these benefits by putting people back to work – especially in rural communities – [as well as] supporting forest investments that provide wildlife habitat, clean water and fresh air.”

Photo credit: Bates Smart